This week I was lucky enough to visit one of LWK Kitchens very lovely clients to see her newly finished kitchen, and to ask about her personal experience of our kitchen design and installation process, focusing on the challenges of designing for a small kitchen space.
Maya and her husband Rick, both in their early thirties, first moved into their Georgian terraced property in Streatham Common nearly seven years ago. Maya is currently pregnant with their first child and it was on learning this happy news that the couple set about the challenge of designing, installing and finishing a new kitchen in good time for their new arrival!
Maya and Rick chose a two tone kitchen design in High gloss Metallic Ocean Blue lacquer with High gloss white laminate wall units. All units were handleless, and finished with a Compac Smoke grey quartz worktop and Neff kitchen appliances.
Here’s what Maya had to say about her kitchen design experience….
Jen: What were your primary reasons for replacing your kitchen?
Maya: In terms of looks our previous kitchen was old and tired. It was there before we moved in so never our choice and was way past its best. It had wood cabinets and a wood worktop which was in extremely bad condition.
My husband Rick and I are both keen foodies but we found because of the small kitchen space and poor layout we couldn’t both work in the kitchen at the same time which was frustrating. It was always our plan to replace it and when we got married we set up a wedding fund for this very purpose, yet it was only when I fell pregnant two years on that we decided to kickstart this project as having a fully-functional and hygienic kitchen became a top priority for us in taking care of a baby.
J: Did you have any specific ideas or requirements for your kitchen redesign that you included in your brief?
M: From the offset we knew we wanted a German kitchen because we were familiar with their reputation for quality and durability.
Achieving a better layout was also essential because the space is small, and within this we were certain we wanted a kitchen in which we could both work at the same time.
J: Was there anything specific about your last kitchen that you wanted to retain within the new design?
M: Absolutely nothing because it was a really impractical layout so we were keen to start from scratch and very open to all ideas!
J: How did you find the design process?
M: Ricky is an engineer so with a practical mind had initially used an online software design program to create a layout we wanted and liked. We used this as a starting point when visiting different kitchen companies.
With LWK Kitchens, we emailed our plans over with Ricky’s initial design, including all dimensions. From here we talked through possible options. I was really impressed with the designer’s technical knowledge and also appreciated her honest and clear approach in telling us what would or wouldn’t work for a small kitchen design, and why. This was key for such a small kitchen space, and anything different would have simply wasted both of our time!
The design itself was really useful and especially because it was so detailed! This was key for my husband who was removing the kitchen himself, as well as to be able to pass on to others who were carrying out works in our home at the same time.
J: Were there any challenges directly associated with a small kitchen space and how were these addressed?
M: I was keen to ensure sufficient counter space so that one of us could prep whilst the other cook within the kitchen at the same time, and if I’m honest even when looking at the final plans I was worried there wouldn’t be enough space….
But the reality is it works really well, and especially for Ricky, who as a keen baker needs space for rolling out dough. The shape of the room was also awkward and because of the size I was worried about losing the corner space, but this was resolved with corner shelving units.
J: How did you choose your kitchen colour and finish?
M: We knew from early on that we wanted a handleless kitchen design as it looks nicer and I think its also cleaner.
Because of the small kitchen size we agreed with the designer that a lighter kitchen colour would be best, but whilst I like blues I certainly hadn’t thought of it until we saw the Ocean blue lacquer door …and we loved this! It works really well with the white wall cabinets too. We’re not ‘modern’ people and the rest of our home isn’t modern in style but we absolutely love the finish we’ve picked!
For the worktop finish we initially wanted a light worktop but after choosing our cabinets thought this wouldn’t look right, and as keen cooks we felt this would show up every mark and spillage. Instead we chose the smoke grey compact quartz. This was usable, practical and for us essentially also scratch resistant too.
J: How important do you think it was that you visited a showroom in person?
M: The showroom visit was really important! You need this to see the complete article and get a true sense of the finish, what it looks like, feels like, as well as to hold up the samples and look at them in different lights!
The showroom visit was key for us choosing our door colour and also influenced our worktop choice as initially we wanted a 30mm worktop but on seeing this for ourselves and being able to compare, we opted instead for the thinner 20mm worktop.
J: How did you feel about the installation process ahead of it starting?
M: Less so with LWK Kitchens but during the initial period of seeing different kitchen companies we were definitely worried about the installation, especially as we wanted to be sure we could have the kitchen finished ahead of the baby arriving. LWK Kitchens were very clear in explaining what would happen at every stage so this settled our concerns and instead we just had to focus on ensuring our prep works (which my husband was doing himself) were completed on time.
J: Did the installation cause much disruption to you?
M: Only what we were expecting. The kitchen arrived Monday and the fit was to start Tuesday.
We were told the kitchen would take 3 or 4 days to fit and I was surprised at how quick it was! The fitter took three days and so finished on Thursday, the worktop was templated on the Friday and they came back to fit and finish it the following Tuesday.
The whole process was quite easy and apart from being there to let the fitter in each morning I didn’t even need to be there, so didn’t have to take any time off work. The only snag was a panel that wasn’t right but a new one was quickly ordered and it certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying the kitchen in the short time it took for it to be replaced.
J: How did you feel on first seeing your newly finished kitchen?
M: It was amazing! We were so excited to see it finished and seeing it for real was so different from the drawings! I love the modern metallic blue finish and because of the way it sparkles under lights I keep telling all my friends I have a special ‘spaceship kitchen’!
J: What is your favourite feature within your new kitchen?
M: I love the smooth movement of the handleless drawers and cabinets, and I keep opening and shutting them for no reason whenever I’m in the kitchen!
I also really like the Neff Slide and Hide oven which works brilliantly for a small kitchen space as there’s no door that can be left open and obstruct access. My old kitchen had a dual oven and we initially wanted to keep this but when looking at new models realised how much space we had been losing, so instead went for a single oven with microwave grill. The half-width compact dishwasher was also a really good choice for us.
J: Now that you have been using your new kitchen for a few weeks how are you finding it?
M: It is everything we could have hoped for, and more!
The ease of getting things in and out of the cupboards, oven and drawers is worlds apart from our old kitchen and it has become an absolute pleasure to cook in there now, particularly when using the oven and hob.
J: Looking back is there anything you might have done differently?
M: The only thing I can think of is that we might have included an internal bin within one of the cupboards but otherwise no, absolutely no regrets and we really love our new kitchen!
I would like to thank Maya for speaking with me about her kitchen redesign. At the time of writing, Maya and Rick’s baby is now due so myself and LWK Kitchens would like to wish them both all the best for their new family life and for the exciting times ahead!